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DBIA Milestone: 2011, Ohio Embraces Design-Build - Part 1



The Ohio of the late 1800s was nothing like the Ohio of 2011. It didn’t have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cedar Point’s roller coasters or the interstate highways connecting Cincinnati to Cleveland. What the Ohio of both centuries had, however, was a construction policy that caused confusion and unnecessary complications. Though some attempts had been made to make changes, spring 2011 was the first time a substantial effort would be invested by an association dedicated to integrated project delivery: the Design-Build Institute of America. DBIA had only been around for 18 years, but we were about to be a part of changing Ohio law that had been in place for over a century.

A unique political history in Ohio had contributed to an environment where the authorized forms of project delivery hadn’t changed in 134 years. Ohio had used multi-prime project delivery, which required multiple contracts, a different one with each company providing plumbing, HVAC, mechanical, electrical, etc. General contractors found this system extremely difficult to coordinate and costly to manage. Examples of successful uses of design-build existed throughout Ohio, however, as municipalities with home rule were allowed to use it and the Ohio Department of Transportation could use it on projects so long as the cost of all design-build projects did not add up to more than $250 million over two years. Despite these limitations, DBIA had been active with the design-build entities completing these small projects and had already developed some relationships with Ohioans. We were able to use these contacts to get the ball rolling on a campaign to extend design-build authority.

After the elections of 2010 ushered in huge changes for Ohio politics, including a new Governor who was dedicated to procurement reform, DBIA’s legislative advocacy staff noticed a real opportunity brewing and immediately set up meetings with the Governor and his new staff. We developed relationships with key stakeholders, and made the case for design-build.

But in a state with a history of being averse to changing procurement policy, especially one in which that policy hadn’t changed in 134 years, what were the chances of finally being successful? Were the relationships we built and the meetings we organized really substantial enough to change a policy ingrained in Ohio law for over a century? The next few weeks would truly put DBIA’s advocacy team to the test.
See Part 2


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